Sheltering in Denver
In the 1960’s and 70’s, the City and County of Denver maintained a list of fallout shelters around Denver. These shelters were generally basements of civic buildings, schools, and churches and were maintained by a variety of organizations. They were identified as shelters because they were underground and offered greater protection from nuclear blast and fallout.
As the risk of nuclear war lessened after the 1980's, so to did the the recommended protective actions. As a result, the Denver Office of Emergency Management shifted it's focus and instead of maintaining shelters that may not be accessible 24/7, or may be full and risk persons being caught outdoors trying to find a shelter, we are choosing to better educate the public on how to protect themselves in their homes, workplaces, and schools.
Preparing for a Nuclear Detonation Event
The following are things you can do before a nuclear bomb detonation to protect yourself, your family, and your property:
- Make an Emergency Plan and Emergency Supply Kit. Visit ready.gov for more information on how to create each.
- If your home is not suitable, make a list of potential shelters near your home, workplace, and school. Potential shelters might include basements, tunnels, or the windowless center area of high-rise building.
- Tape duct tape around your basement windows or openings to seal off any cracks to prevent radiation from entering your space.
- During periods of heightened threat, ensure your home, workplace, or school's emergency supplies are stocked to last at least 48-72 hours, including non-perishable foods and water.
During a Nuclear Detonation Event
The following are things you can do during a nuclear bomb detonation to protect yourself, your family, and your property:
- Taking shelter during a nuclear detonation is absolutely necessary. A fallout shelter is a protected space with thick walls and roof to protect against and absorb radiation. Any protection is better than none at all; however, the more time, distance and shielding you can take advantage of, the better outcomes you will have.
- Do not look at the flash or fireball-- it will damage your vision and may cause blindness.
- If an attack warning is issued, you will receive an alert on your phone or via media. If this happens, you should take cover as quickly as you can.
- If possible, take cover below ground in a basement and stay there until you're instructed otherwise.
- Find the nearest building, preferably brick or concrete and stay inside to avoid radiation exposure.
- If you can find better shelter, such as a multi-story building or basement within minutes, go there immediately.
- Staying underground or in the center of a tall building during the highest levels of radiation (at least 48 hours after a blast) is going to help provide the best outcomes.
Being Caught in a Nuclear Detonation
If you are unable to shelter during a detonation, the below guidelines are to help improve your outcomes:
- Do not look at the flash or fireball as it will damage your vision and may cause blindness.
- Take cover behind anything that might offer protection.
- Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it will take approx. 30 seconds to reach you.
- If you survive, take shelter as soon as you can and remove all your clothing and seal in a plastic bag and dispose of the bag away from other people and animals.
- Take a soapy shower as soon possible. Scrub rigorously but do not scratch the skin. Do not use conditioner as it can bind radioactive material to your hair, preventing it from rinsing out easily.
- Gently blow your nose and wipe your eyelids, eyelashes and ears with a wet wash cloth.
- If you cannot shower, use a wipe or clear wet cloth to wipe your skin that was not covered by clothing.
After a Nuclear Detonation Event
If you survive a nuclear detonation event and you're allowed to return home, remember the following:
- Keep listening to the local radio and television news and follow authorities on social media for instruction on what to do, where to go, and what and where to avoid.
- Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away from areas marked "radiation hazard" or "HAZMAT".